Professional Development

During March 2011...

Roz ACRL Thursday

Thursday, March 31, 2011 10:27 pm

I usually do conference ‘theme’ posts and I’m still figuring out what my themes will be (spaces and discovery most likely) but for now I’ll mention a few things from today. Breakfast was hosted by Serials Solutions and included presentations from three libraries using Summon, their discovery service. I know it’s not perfect, but each time I look into it I am more and more impressed. Joe Lucia from Villanova, who has brought Summon results into their Vufind instance, likened the adoption of these services as a deal with the devil that at the moment is necessary. He meant that until libraries can create an open source version of the kind of service that Summon provides, we do a disservice to our users by not seriously considering their benefits. More on this in my theme post, I’m sure.

I attended an interesting but brief session on people using podcasts as an assessment tool in a for-credit information literacy class. They had them do a brief podcast about their research strategies on day two of the class and again on the next to the last day. Then they had them listen back to both and reflect on them. They found that there were some deep learning outcomes that came through via this exercise and I am intrigued by its possibilities for giving us an additional window into our own classes and their benefits.

My presentation today on looking for the tipping point in the QR Code evolution was well attended and well received (or it seemed to be, anyway). Several people tweeted about it and others have stopped me in the hallways to say they enjoyed it so I consider that a success. I find QR Codes a fascinating but a ‘not quite there yet’ tool for libraries not because we aren’t doing cool things with them, but because we don’t yet have a saturation of QR Code users on our campuses. And alas, I don’t think libraries will be the application of QR codes that tip them into general use, but once they tip – I think we have some real opportunities.

I’ll save a great session I attended on renovations in service areas for my space planning theme post and just mention that Raj Patel, our keynote this afternoon, was beyond amazing. Patel is an economist, theorist, advocate, protester and so much more that it is hard to condense what he said into a few sentences. The main theme of his talk was the interdependence that we all know we have but seldom acknowledge. The talk spanned food politics, Cuban agricultural practices, women’s unpaid labor, the REAL price of a hamburger and so much more. I’m hoping they will post it online and we can schedule a staff development activity for those who want to watch it. He’s an amazing thinker and speaker and it will take me a while to absorb all that he discussed.

The evening ended with a lovely reception at the Franklin Institute where we got to see a great Leonardo da Vinci exhibit which astounds and at the same time makes you feel intellectually lazy. We then got to watch a librarian band of musicians play. Tomorrow I spend the morning with Sage looking at their new Sage Research Methods Online products and then some great sessions in the afternoon. More later!

Lynn’s Thursday at ACRL

Thursday, March 31, 2011 5:49 pm

It is a good thing librarians are organized because you really needed to be organized to choose from the hundreds of programs available at ACRL today.

I started off at 8:00 am with a session on Return on Investment (ROI) and other ways to demonstrate the value of a library to its community. Jim Neal of Columbia likes to poke a finger in the eye of the latest library fads, so he took off on the insanity of ROI and focused instead on the need for new qualitative measures of academic library success. He posits it is foolish to put library value in economic terms and prefers qualitative measures to embrace human objectives like happiness and satisfaction. Interestingly, the next two speakers in the panel attempted to demonstrate the quantitative ROI that Jim railed against. The University of Colorado tried to demonstrate the value of their collections as they support campus initiatives and George Mason University discussed new metrics for engagement. (Engagement is a hot buzzword here. I wonder if it showed up in the word cloud that Roz did of ACRL topics.)

I attended my first instance of an “unconference.” I’ve read about them but never experienced one. I like it. At ACRL, they call it IdeaPower. What impressed me most was the give and take with the audience. There were 6 minutes each for presentation and feedback. My favorite session was on the therapy dog project during exams at St. Louis University (Tufts did one too). They both said they got better feedback on this from students than anything else they had ever done. If we are careful to keep them contained in one room for those with allergies, I’d love to do it at Wake. Pet the puppies!

I attended a session done by former colleagues at Wayne State on “Cultivating the fully engaged librarian.” There’s that engagement thing again. Seems like every liaison program has the same issues: time management and the need to creatively engage on all fronts with academic departments.

Roz did a great job on QR Codes at the Cyber Zed Shed (ACRL needs to lose that session name). She didn’t just do a how-to, but analyzed the current state and looked ahead to the future. Way to go, Roz.

I got some ideas on the session where Western Michigan discussed VuFind vis-à-vis their Summon installation. I’m starting to warm up to Summon.

A late entry to the program was “Google Book Search: What Comes Next?” after Judge Denny Chin rejected the proposed settlement last Tuesday when we were celebrating our ACRL award. Jonathan Band’s “March Madness” chart has been updated for you copyright junkies out there (I know it’s a little fuzzy. Susan has promised to give me photography lessons before I go to Liberia):

Coming up tonight: dinner with my niece who works in Philly and then Joe Lucia from Villanova and his musical group “MARC Fields and Bad Data.” I am not making this up.

Difficult Dialogues

Thursday, March 31, 2011 4:25 pm

Difficult Dialogues: An Interactive Theatre Performance and Workshop on Heterosexism

The Office of the Provost and the Teaching and Learning Center co-sponsored the event. Visiting Artist Dr. Suzanne Burgoyne, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri, and performed by Wake Forest Students. It was a depiction of a student project meeting which hidden feelings surfaced and transformed into offensive speech. Following the sketch, actors and actresses stayed in character to answer audience questions about their behavior. Although our behaviors are most often influenced by family, beliefs, life experiences, media, pop culture etc., each individual affected has a responsibility to be respectful of differences. In most difficult dialogues we should be aware that opinions vary, the stakes are usually high and emotions run deep. A difficult dialogue is a civil discussion of a controversial issue in which participants hold strongly differing views on the issue. In sum, the goal of a difficult dialogue is to foster understanding, respect for other views and listen attentively. Cristina, Wanda and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and the interaction.

Susan Arrives at ACRL Philadelphia

Thursday, March 31, 2011 6:58 am

Curious Conference Goers in the Exhibit Hall

As you probably have read in Giz’s earlier post, we spent the day traveling in the library van from Winston-Salem to Philadelphia to attend the 2011 ACRL conference. It was a great trip, with computing productivity thanks to Giz’s wifi hotspot, frequent brainstorming for future library projects and just plain good conversation. If you are ever traveling, you can’t go wrong teaming up with Giz, Roz and Mary Beth.

But we didn’t arrive in Philadelphia until around 4:00 pm. By the time we checked into the hotel and found our way over to registration, we were too late to hear the opening keynote speaker. But we did manage to attend the opening reception for the exhibit hall, where we made a beeline to the Alibris booth to find Bill. We also rounded up Molly and then headed for an early dinner. We also managed to spend a block of time mapping out the sessions we want to attend so we all cover as many as possible. The programming at ACRL is very rich with a wide variety of topics and a wide range of time slots. I’ve got my calendar fairly well set for tomorrow, where I start with a vendor breakfast and then jump right into a full day of programs. I’ll report on them tomorrow evening, so look for it!

PS….At ACRL, you can depend on running in to old colleagues and friends. I’ve already met up with Sherry Durren (former Science Librarian at ZSR) and Debbie Nolan (former Associate Dean). They both sent their regards to the folks back at ZSR. Just to highlight how time flies…..Debbie told me she is now into her fifth year at Towson!

ACRL 2011: Opening Session

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 7:26 pm

I think I say this every time. The great thing about an ACRL conference is that there are no committee meetings or business sessions, just tons of interesting presentations about academic libraries. What a luxury to be free to learn new things! OK, the other good thing about ACRL is that they give ZSR national awards…ohmigosh, as I type, the “holding-the-trophy” picture from our award celebration just flashed across the slideshow preceding the keynote address!!

It was announced there are 3,000 people in attendance and 1,000 are attending for the first time. Amazing.

The keynote address was by Tiffany Shlain, self-proclaimed film-maker, artist, Internet pioneer and activist. It started well with a quote from Sophocles, “nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse,” (Antigone) and continued with an interesting story about Barbie being created by a Jewish woman, and reached a high point with the explanation of an “infinite dopamine loop” being the cause of addictive email reading (ahem) and the insatiable craving for new knowledge. Beyond that, I think Lauren P does a better job with her all-image slide show as backdrop to her talk.

After the session, I met up with the intrepid ZSR Four after their 9 hour drive from Winston. They all looked and sounded great!

Giz, Mary Beth and Roz (Susan lurking behind)

We met up with Bill at the Alibris booth and then split up to visit the exhibits. More later!

ACRL 2011: On Route, Discussing Tech Topics

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 8:49 am

At 6am, Susan, Mary Beth, Roz and I loaded up the ZSR minivan and headed to Philadelphia. Now we are just north of Raleigh near Butner. We are using my iPhone 4 as a mobile hotspot to allow my ThinkPad and Susan’s MacBook Air to connect to the Internet. AT&T now allows iPhone users to enable tethering and use up to 4GB of data per month. While tethering requires users to give up their unlimited data plans, most users (like me) find that 4GB of data is more than sufficient.

One topic of conversation in the van has been the new Amazon Digital Music Locker and Cloud Player for the Web. Just released this week, a cnet article defines says “the Amazon Cloud Drive allows users to upload their digital music files–either AAC or MP3 formats–at their original bit rate to Amazon servers for storage and playback on any Web-connected PC, Mac, or Android device, wherever they are.”

Additionally, some recent articles are reporting that Apple will release a new $20 per year MobileMe service that will include “Locker” a service that, like the Amazon Digital Music Locker. will allow users to store and stream their music.

Now, courtesy of Susan, here is a photo of me writing this blog post!

Giz online in the ZSR Van

Anna at ILLiad Conference

Monday, March 28, 2011 3:22 am

Last week, I attended the 2011 ILLiad Conference in Virginia Beach, VA, from Wednesday, March 23rd, through Friday, March 25th. This was my first experience at an ILLiad conference, and I wanted to share a few things, including updated information about the release of ILLiad 8.1 on April 12, 2011. ILLiad 8.1 will not be compatible with 8.0 because of database changes; the installation of 8.1 involves a scheduled server update in addition to the client update. For me, the most exciting change in the new release involves Odyssey support for .pdf files (which I’m hoping means fewer .pdf emails).

Katie Black, of OCLC, presented updates about the WorldCat knowledge base on Friday morning and encouraged libraries to implement Direct Request for articles when able. According to Katie, OCLC is working with Pubget to autoload Serial Solutions holdings in the knowledge base; Pubget will crawl sites to determine access to databases, and libraries would be required to supply Pubget with login information for each database. World Cat First Search is also disappearing in a few years; OCLC is developing a new platform and First Search will migrate to that platform. However, OCLC will continue to add new features in WC Resource Sharing, which can be used in ILLiad. Finally, I learned that GEBAY (Bavarian State Library), one of our preferred European lenders, will be loading their KB into WorldCat, which will result, in part, in the enhanced sharing of articles. OCLC is also exploring a method for “electronic” document delivery for GEBAY (German law prohibits electronic delivery of materials, so GEBAY sends things to borrowing libraries through the mail…you can imagine how long this takes), so we’ll see how this goes.

In addition to attending the ATLAS/OCLC headlining sessions, I attended several others, with the most memorable involving East Carolina University’s expansion of ILL services, which was facilitated by William Gee. This expansion of traditional services includes providing electronic delivery and physical book delivery services to graduate students and faculty/staff; increasing lending of DVD and Special collections materials; and creating partnerships with local agencies and educators (namely public school instructors) by lending education-related materials (including course packs) to educators in rural areas who lacked access to an education collection of ECU’s caliber. William also elaborated on their distance education lending: they provide Distance Ed students with material that is shipped at ECU’s expense; they send detailed instructions on how to return the material and advise that individuals return the materials in the original containers. They also supply a return shipping label, so the DE student does not absorb any of the cost of using the ILL services. I spoke with William before the session about DE students and Study Abroad Students/Faculty, and he indicated that they still order loans for those enrolled in SA programs; they don’t ship the materials abroad, but they do electronically send a Table of Contents and/or an Index, and the patron requests a chapter or selected pagination from that original list. William also indicated ECU ILL uses separate patron statuses to denote those individuals who are enrolled in Distance Ed or Study Abroad programs, and those requests are processed separately. This all seemed very relevant to future ZSR ILL operations, especially considering the start up of the Distance Ed Master’s in Counseling program.

Another relevant session involved textbook requests and George Mason University’s (VGM) pilot program, which involved limiting textbook requests via ILL. As a result of increasing costs related to ILL textbook requests by students, VGM began working with the University bookstore – which provided the library with book lists for each course – to purchase textbooks for popular courses. Textbooks remained on the reserves shelf for the duration of the semester, and students were limited to a two-hour checkout period. Professors expressed satisfaction that textbooks were being made available to students; ILL staff also expressed satisfaction that time previously spent acquiring textbooks could be redirected to more difficult ILL requests. This program also proved to be a cost-cutting measure; purchasing a textbook was cheaper than requesting it multiple times from various academic libraries. I’m not sure if this sort of program would be as relevant to our ILL operations, as I don’t see traditional textbooks requests dominating our ILL requests (except for the first week or two of both Spring and Fall semesters).

I also enjoyed networking with members of our NC ILL Users group and our KUDZU group; I met ILL librarians and staff from UNC, UNC-W, Tulane, and the University of Memphis. It was interesting to hear about their work flows, and in some cases, lack of resources (including lack of student and/or full-time staff). I also met Cyril Oberlander of SUNY-Geneseo, who attended the recent Conference for Entrepreneurial Librarians; he remarked that it was a wonderful conference and we are fortunate to work in a beautiful library. Yay, ZSR!

*P.S. I needed to move this post from the Gazette to the Prof. Development blog, so I apologize if you receive a Lib-l email again.

Humanities Institute Spring Launch

Friday, March 25, 2011 12:24 pm

On March 18, I attended the opening day keynote address for the Humanities Institute Spring Launch.

Dr. Edward Ayers, currently president of the University of Richmond, was the speaker. His is a familiar face to me since for many years he served as Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History and Dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Virginia, and he regularly wrote columns for the alumni magazine at UVA, where I received my M.A. His accomplishments and influence as an advocate for the humanities, specifically in digital and public humanities, are broad-ranging: an earlier online history project, The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War, remains a celebrated and honored digital archive of thousands of primary source materials from two communities, northern and southern, in Pennsylvania and Virginia during the Civil War. More recently, he has been co-hosting a public radio call-in show, BackStory with the American History Guys (which he described as “Car Talk” for American history buffs). He has also received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for the NEH Digital Humanities program to support “Landscapes of the American Past: Visualizing Emancipation,” which will employ digital mapping in order to reveal where, when and how emancipation emerged from the Civil War as well as social changes that took place during that period.

The lecture itself examined the issue of innovation in the humanities. “What does America want from us,” he queried–”dog-eared volumes or new theories on post-anything?” He countered that humanists are always innovative, in the courses they teach and in the research and scholarship they conduct. He tracked the institutional embodiment of the humanities, given the fact that he has now “bitten the apple of administrative experience,” and traced the timeline of the humanities in academia and the various crises that have arisen. In the 1930s the humanities became part of institutional requirements and the post-war years were their golden age. The 1960s became a period of efflorescence for the humanities, with President Lyndon Johnson’s creation of the NEH and a marked increase in humanities degrees, which peaked in 1972. But by the1970s the job market for advanced degrees in the humanities began to disappear after years of saturation, and although the 1980s became another period of ascendance, albeit to a lesser degree, the relative position of the humanities has since then stabilized and remained largely the same for the past 20 years. However, the crisis of graduate students entering the job market is, in his words, “heartbreaking.” (And I was but a couple of rows behind two very long rows of Visiting Assistant Professors in the English Department, sitting collegially and staunchly together.) Ayers believes that there is no loss of interest in the humanities: the humanities, social sciences, and sciences each enroll approximately 18% of students and the proportion of English majors has remained relatively stable. But since humanists are famous for being resistant to change –because innovations have sometimes come at the expense of the humanities– we need to clarify the innovations we do desire. The golden age will not return. Humanists need to work with the social momentum of the times and to shape that momentum ourselves. He cited his experiences as an administrator, of hearing repeatedly from alumni who specifically remember a faculty member and a class, but conceded that some people remain impervious to our charms of nuanced critical and contextual thinking! In a time of multi-cultural and gender identity interests and awareness, and as internationalism ties together the various areas of the humanities, humanists need to get over any disdain for subjects taught on another floor of a building or the other side of the parking lot, and to realize that all teach profound, life-changing things. He noted at one point that libraries give access to the humanistic archive and that because of e-journals and other digital resources, humanists and the humanities enjoy a vaster audience. He then spent some time showing us the signature project of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond, which deals with the hidden patterns of the Civil War. This involves mapping Richmond’s slave market and digitizing some 3000 pages of the secession debate in Virginia, where slavery is mentioned more than 1000 times in the debates– thereby addressing the question of the extent to which the Civil War was about states’ rights or slavery. He deplored the fact that as we approach the 150th anniversary of the end of slavery, and freedom from perpetual bondage for 4 million people, there is no marking of it. Implicitly, this digital project is an information-rich marker.

Dr. Ayers was a very engaging and thought-provoking speaker, and it was personally interesting for me to see the personality behind the UVA magazine columns I read for so many years.

“Humanities in the 21st Century” symposium: Closing Speaker

Saturday, March 19, 2011 6:14 pm

On Saturday March 19, 2011, I attended the closing session of the WFU Humanities Institute’s inaugural symposium. The session was titled “Are the humanities good for humanity? The aims and place of the humanities in liberal education.”

Our guest speaker was Stanley Fish, Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and Law at Florida International University. Fish describes his field (humanities and law) as a “very new” one that is currently producing new schools of thought on academic freedom, the focus of his talk.

Fish outlined five definitions of academic freedom, arranged on a right-to-left ideological scale:

(1) Traditional/conservative: “the freedom to do the academic job, and not the freedom to do other jobs. The academic job is (a) to introduce students to bodies of materials with which they were not previously familiar, and (b) to equip students with the discipline-appropriate analytical skills. That’s it, nothing else.” In other words, you’re neither trained nor paid to be a therapist, political/social change agent, etc.

(2) Classical liberalism: “the freedom to pursue lines of inquiry that lead to the advancement of knowledge. It cannot be limited in advance — no ideas either canonized or stigmatized at the outset — but it is limited by the in-place standards and norms of academic work,” i.e., subjected to the rigor of academic scrutiny. Fish introduced the term “academisizing”: the notion that “social urgency” (real-world intervention) should be translated into “academic urgency” — supplying the kind of analysis, etc., to current issues that academics excel at, and that constitutes their most distinctive contribution.

(3) “Post-Modernist”: “the freedom to interrogate and challenge the institution’s norms and standards, for it is always possible, and indeed likely, that those standards and norms reflect and perpetuate the interests of a suspect status quo.” Fish calls this a “hermeneutics of suspicion.” It further demands that academics justify their arguments according to external standards, not just by appeals to the traditional standards of the academic community.

(4) “Academic exceptionalism”: “freedom is exercised by exceptional beings who by virtue of training, expertise, and the scholarly temperament produce words more valuable than the words of ordinary men and women.” Fish noted that exceptionalistic notions have no standing as a legal concept (Supreme Court rulings have mentioned academic freedom in an honorific sense, not as legally binding), or as a constitutional right (doesn’t entitle academic institutions to special treatment over others).

(5) “Radical” or “Terminal”: “the freedom and obligation to oppose tyranny, oppression, exclusion, racism, and discrimination wherever they are found, including within the university itself which, because it is embedded in a neoliberal society controlled by corporate interests, is quite likely corrupt at its core.” This view, Fish says, emphasizes “freedom” as the main concept, “academic” as ancillary; this results in the loss of the disciplinary constraints academic rigor provides.

A panel of WFU faculty provided responses.

Michele Gillespie, of the History Dept., offered the following points:

  • She doesn’t want to see humanists go on the defensive; instead, we should think of ways to increase our presence in the wider world. This can be accomplished not only by employing service-based learning and other innovations in the classroom, but also by strengthening relationships with scholars in other disciplines (WFU’s small size makes it particularly conducive to this).
  • Economic growth was originally envisioned as enabling cultural growth; nowadays, economic growth is increasingly viewed as the end purpose.
  • Other disciplines need us, and are starting to realize this; they are coming to us to learn how to apply “our empathetic grasp of human complexities” to their own fields’ endeavors.

Simeon Ilesanmi, of the Religion Dept., questioned whether “the academy is better off” adopting a values-free approach to education, rejecting in loco parentis, etc. He noted the frequency with which WFU students cited parental preference as determining their choice of major. In contrast, he defined the academic’s job as “making individuals useful to themselves and to the community” — such a program cannot be values-free.

Herman Rapaport, of the English Dept., offered the following points:

  • He contrasted an ideology espoused by some parents, and some schools, that the academic’s job is to teach students skills but not to affect them personally (cause them to change their political or religious views,etc.), as opposed to the view that we are here to teach students how to be intellectuals, life-long learners.
  • Rapaport also contrasted European and American student attitudes. European students, he said, often read their professors’ work, debate it with them, and suggest new courses that they should teach; American students rarely do this. Rapaport attributes this to a greater American emphasis on skills acquisition.
  • Rapaport says he takes “a more psychological view of the classroom” than many of his colleagues. The very act of interacting with people means that you are dealing with their past influences; in this sense, instructors can’t escape being therapists. There is “something that transcends” pure academics in the act of teaching: even if a student doesn’t grasp the details of a lecture, something like a Freudian transference occurs when that student sees the instructor’s enthusiasm for the topic. In this way, the instructor delivers a tradition to another person.

Dr. Fish distributed a ten-page handout filled with interesting quotes on academic freedom. I’ve posted my copy in the staff lounge, for anyone interested.

“Humanities in the 21st Century” symposium: Student panel

Friday, March 18, 2011 9:27 pm

On Friday March 18, I attended a symposium marking the launching of WFU’s new Humanities Institute.

Because students are the reason we’re all here, the organizers made a deliberate and significant decision to open the symposium with a student panel discussion, on the topic “Perspectives on the future of the humanities at Wake Forest.”

The panel consisted of five students, whose majors and minors represented not only the traditional humanities disciplines of literature and history, but also anthropology, psychology, chemistry, and economics. Helps explain why our LIB250 course (Humanities research) has, since its inaugural semester, attracted significant numbers of students majoring in the sciences and social sciences.

Some of the students’ more striking insights:

  • A student planning to pursue a career in neuroscience described how her work with homeless communities as part of a medical anthropology course made her aware of the importance of culture as a driving force behind scientific initiatives to enhance quality-of-life issues.
  • Many students forget to ask “Why”? “How can my research make a difference in the world?” Humanities can answer these questions.
  • A second student also planning to go into medicine cited the Kantian notion of treating people as ends in themselves: her study of narrative, and the concept of types (characters in literature, film, etc.) led to the insight that the humanities militate against typing people. This can help doctors avoid the trap of stereotyping their patients, and the limiting of the doctor/patient relationship that results.
  • One student had been exposed to scholarly arguments holding that current popular culture (films, magazines, etc.) are sufficient means by which to know the world and people. The student learned, through her studies in the humanities, that this is not the case.
  • One student cited the all-important factor of context: humanities fill the gaps in perception between science, politics, religion, etc.
  • Economics are “cultivated” by the humanities.
  • One student who as a freshman was reluctant to venture into humanities studies noted how exposure to philosophy, Classics, film studies, etc. “makes you restless.” It changed his focus from a didactic “me teaching you what I think” to a more reflective “me learning from you what you think.”

The moderator, Prof. David Phillips, asked the panel what they wanted to see from the Humanities Institute in the future. Some responses:

  • A number of students are resistant to humanities (“why should my money go to support a student studying some obscure 17th-century poem?”). The Institute can help change such attitudes.
  • All students, whether they know it or not, engage in reflection. Pop songs, for instance, reflect on the question “What is love?” The Institute could “modernize” humanities studies by explicitly demonstrating connections of this nature.
  • Interdisciplinary courses co-taught by instructors from different disciplines (“Schopenhauer and Wagner”, taught by a philosopher and a music scholar — “why not philosophy and physics?” asked the student) are particularly valuable.

Finally, one panelist admitted that, in contrast to others who had experienced a dramatic “aha” moment, his own appreciation of the humanities had developed slowly over his three years at Wake. He advised instructors who feel frustration when students seem not to “get it” — “try, try again”!


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